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Elephant behaviors

Abnormal behaviors in Elephants; Swaying is normally linked to distress

There are some Elephants behaviors that can be said to be natural or stereotypical, but then there are some that are considered to be abnormal. The swaying of an Elephant is something that is often linked to distress, so if you see an Elephant swaying then it’s likely that something is wrong. Other abnormal behaviors in Elephants include:

  • Playing with objects that aren’t toys
  • Obsessively chewing on things
  • Self-mutilation
  • Excessive shaking or twitching
  • Aggression towards people or other animals

However, it has also been noted that some captive elephants sway due to an instinctual need to keep balance. Swaying can also be a sign of physical discomfort, such as when an elephant is experiencing joint pain.

Trunk-in-air behaviour is another sign of distress in elephants. This is when an elephant lifts its trunk up in the air and waves it around, often while making a trumpeting sound. This behaviour is usually only seen when an elephant is severely distressed or agitated.